Bruno Sammartino passed away Tuesday at the age of 82.
"WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Bruno Sammartino has passed away at age 82," they released in a statement Tuesday morning.
WWE is saddened to learn that WWE Hall of Famer Bruno Sammartino has passed away at age 82. https://t.co/B8nUabP0oh— WWE (@WWE) April 18, 2018
Before there was Roman Reigns, John Cena, The Rock, Stone Cold, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair, there was Bruno Sammartino. As the most decorated man in the history of professional wrestling, Sammartino will always be remembered as one of the sturdiest pillars the sport will ever know.
WWE.com wrote the following:
Bruno became an overnight sensation, connecting with not only fellow Italians, but also the Latino, Greek and Jewish communities, successfully bridging the gap in America's melting pot of wrestling fans. His legend continued to grow on May 17, 1963, when Sammartino defeated Buddy Rogers in just 48 seconds to become the second-ever WWE Champion in front of nearly 20,000 fans at the old Madison Square Garden.
Bruno held the WWE Championship for nearly eight years — by far the longest reign of all time, and a record for all professional wrestling champions, no matter the organization. A household name all over the country, the beloved hero defended his title in legendary rivalries against WWE Hall of Famers Killer Kowalski, Gorilla Monsoon and George "The Animal" Steele.
CBS Pittsburgh says that Sammartino passed away peacefully with his wife and two sons by his side. Sammartino had been battling health issues for two months.